Traction is a type of therapy that applies pressure opposite of gravity. In doing so it takes pressure off of spinal joints. It opens up the disc space and the foramen (a hole where the nerve exits the spine) allowing for greater room for the nerve roots. It is helpful with degenerative disc disease, a result of osteoarthritis, and “pinched nerves”,
Traction was used incorrectly many decades ago in hospital settings. Patients were “put” in traction when they had severe back pain. This type of traction took pressure off the nerves, but since it was a constant traction for several days, it overstretched the ligaments and caused joint instability.
Today we use intermittent traction instead of constant traction. The difference is that a specific amount of pressure is applied for only a few moments at a time then the pressure is taken off. This process is repetitive which causes a pumping action for the discs between the bones. This type of traction is actually quite healthy for the spine and allows for re-hydration of the inter vertebral discs. It can be used in the neck or the lower spine.